December 30th, 2009
12:02 PM ET
10 months ago

CNN Poll: President not most popular person in his administration

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll indicates that President Obama is not the most popular person in his administration.
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll indicates that President Obama is not the most popular person in his administration.

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama may be the most popular man in his administration, but according to a new national poll, he's not the most popular person.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that the president's poll numbers pale in comparison to the favorable ratings of two women: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama.

Fifty-eight percent of people questioned in the survey have a favorable view of Obama, with four in 10 holding an unfavorable view. But the president's favorable rating is 10 points below that of his wife and 6 points behind the secretary of state. According to the poll, 68 percent of the public has a positive opinion of the first lady, with 19 percent holding an unfavorable opinion. Sixty-four percent have a positive view of Clinton, with three in 10 holding an unfavorable view.

Full results (PDF)

The survey indicates that nearly nine out of 10 Democrats have a positive view of the president, with Independents split and more than 3 out of 4 Republicans seeing Obama in an unfavorable way. The president's favorable rating is down 6 points from August and 11 points from April.

A reminder that a favorable rating is not the same as an approval rating: favorable ratings measure how Americans feel about Obama as a person, while an approval rating is an indicator of his job performance in the White House.

According to the poll, most Cabinet officials other than Clinton are not very well known.

"An exception is Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who may be better-known, and better-liked, than the rest because he also served for several years under former President George W. Bush," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Gates has a 52 percent favorable rating, with 18 percent unfavorable and 3 in 10 unsure. The defense secretary's 55 percent favorable rating among Republicans is one point higher than his rating among Democrats.

Twenty-seven percent of people questioned say they have a favorable opinion of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, with 33 percent holding an unfavorable view and 4 in 10 unsure. The poll indicates Americans are divided on their opinion of Attorney General Eric Holder, with 54 percent unsure. The public also appears to be split on their opinion of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, with 43 percent unsure.

"Geithner and Holder are relatively unknown. So is Bernanke, despite his status as Time magazine's Person of the Year and his high-profile confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill," adds Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 16-20, with 1,160 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. clbrune

    Of course, Obama's numbers will continue to fall as he solidifies his image as a Washington status-quo insider.

    December 30, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. Baby Boomer

    Okay. Who on earth is surprised by these results. President Obama has had to make some of the hardest decisions of any President in the past 25 years. While I love Mrs. Obama and the example she is setting as First Lady, she does not have to deal with a fraction of what the President deals with every day. In a different capacity the same can be said for Secretary Clinton. So this is not an apples to apples comparison. Just another way to put down the President. Glad he has the smarts to ignore this kind of junk. Keep it going Mr. President...

    December 30, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. democratsruinwhattheytouch

    The most inept presidency in history, the winner of the Nobel Peace prize, the man who apologized to the world that Bush upheld his constituional duties, is failing badly. This is something that SEIU/ACORN and George Soros can be really proud of, they have done a good job of destroying our country in a year since they installed this idiot in office. Hey CNN why don't you do a story on how much Obama received in campaign contributions from the financial services industry as compared to McCain, and then you will see some of the real problems with the econoby. His fraudulency will be revealed even more. While you are at it you may want to do one on the year long investigation of Charlie Rangel by Pelosi. There is a real joke.

    December 30, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. David

    No surprise there. Buyers remorse. And I don't buy the first lady as part of the administration.

    December 30, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. Ray Fisher

    If the President were popularhe wouldn't be doing his job!!! He must be judged AFTER he leaves office. Our President has many obstacles to overcome and constant criticism by the rabid Republlicans. Everyone please support him and our nation and bring civility back to the norm!!!

    December 30, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. Reny

    He is better than President Cheney and his lapdog Bush.

    December 30, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    When the person in charge tries to do the right thing for Americans, it is not always popular. The GOP and Fox has tried very hard to destroy Obama.

    DeMint, of South Carolina, has tried very hard to make everything a "Waterloo" for Obama. But for DeMint, it is not just health reform. By his holding up the appointment of the head of the TSA, he must have felt that an idiot like the underwear bomber would be able to kill Americans, and that would be Obama's "Waterloo." Or if the GOP could filibuster the defense appropriations bill and our troops could be killed because they would not be able to get necessary equipment, that would be Obama's "Waterloo."

    December 30, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. seebofubar

    This shouldn't surprize anyone, he's a fake and a scam artist. It's just taking a little time fore people to realize it. Here in Illinois we knew it a long time ago.

    December 30, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. Larry

    Obama's poll numbers are going to keep going down too. He's been a real disappointment.

    The terror attempt from Yemen is proof that fighting in Afghanistan is doing nothing more than sacrificing good American lives and innocent Afghan lives.

    When is Obama going to wake up to that?

    A year ago he was probably the most popular person on the planet. Now I see him as a one-term president.

    Anyone got any ideas who could be next for the White House?

    December 30, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. james

    You can't compare the favorability of person who has to make real and consequential decisions to those who are basically figureheads or following orders.

    December 30, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. tate

    guess people like guys who lie cheat and steal there way to power. guys who have not back bone, guys who are cowards and clueless to economics. If you can read a telepromter and are clean you must be what other people want to be. how about his idiot leave the big lsland that my tax dollars are going to and come back and work. or go swim near the reef at pipeline pleaseeeeeeeee

    December 30, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. J. Rochester, NY

    There should be a poll to see if there are TOO MANY STUPID POLLS

    Get to investigating and being journalists and stop wasting time with this kind of garbage.

    December 30, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. NYCitizen

    Hillary would've been a better president....nobody wants to admit it, so I just did. P.S. Cheney's right about Obama's handling of the recent failed airliner bomb....Obama is proving to be weak and ineffectual...great talker, no walker

    December 30, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. former republican

    I know that I'm starting to wonder. Please Mr. President, I voted for you. Campaigned for you. Made calls, registered voters, etc. Stay the heck away from the far left. You need to think of Pelosi as the enemy just as much as Cheney is! I'm and Independent, and your going to lose our support the next election. I don't want you to be a one-termer. But you have got to be more moderate. Bush sold us out to China a long time ago, its time for some conservative fiscal spending. I know that we have to spend...but lets do some cutting back. I agree that Healthcare is a huge problem and it must be fixed, but lets not rush this through just for the sake of accomplishing something. Lets work together, and get the RIGHT bill passed.

    December 30, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. T'SAH from Virginia

    Do you THINK President Obama cares about this?????????????? First of all, I am sure he is PROUD of his wife – he LOVES her and I am sure Michelle Obama is not RUBBING it in.............ONLY CNN!!!

    Second, he elected Hillary Clinton to be the Secretary of State and I am sure he is PROUD of her also.

    Bill Gates ratings are high – I am sure President Obama is proud of that also!!!

    So what is the problem!??? Your headlines are ALWAYS misleading and geared towards making President Obama LQQK bad!!!...............NOT!!

    December 30, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  16. Pete K

    Whether its health care , cap and trade or sky high spending , 2010 will not be a good year .

    Get ready for economic meltdown , food riots and more left wing social engineering .

    CO2 is not a pollutant . The middle class needs to fight back against cap and trade . Cap and trade is carbon slavery . Call your Rep. , your Senator , and the white house for a two year review of the tainted global warming science .

    Even if you believe in global warming cap and trade is not the answer .

    Just say no to Obama-gedden .

    December 30, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    Another stupid poll, which of course shows that Republicans don't like our President. *yawn*

    Please, CNN, stop it with these silly nonsense polls – what are we, in high school?

    I'm more concerned with the facts about what is actually happening in this world, such as President Obama and his Administration inherited a huge mess from Bush & Company and have done many constuctive things to turn our country around (and that the GOP has stated they want our president and our country to fail).

    December 30, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Nathan,

    If Hillary was President and Obama Secretary of State the numbers would be reversed. Being President means being disliked wheather you're incompetent like Bush or facing the crap left by Bush tht Obama is having to deal with.

    December 30, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    "guess people like guys who lie cheat and steal there way to power. guys who have not back bone, guys who are cowards and clueless to economics....."

    Ummm... I thought the Bush presidency ended in January. Have a nice day!

    December 30, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    Pete K warns of food riots .... Are you kidding me? Every time I read one of these idiotic posts from the GOP lackey machine, all I can think of is these folks have never traveled or lived outside our country. GET A GRIP!

    They have absolutely no prespective ... all they know if fear-mongering, hatred and division, brought on by ignorance and a reliance on Faux for their "information."

    December 30, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  21. Matt

    Mrs. Obama is just a photo op / marketing tool for the administration.

    What's not to like about the fabricated fluff pieces: the garden, dog, decorations, dates, funny stories, visits to schools.... they have no real impact on everyone's lives.

    It's overdone, but apparently working.

    December 30, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  22. FM

    The President has the lion's share of tackling all the issues without excluding even a single one.
    Not a single day passes without hearing him. The more he performs his work, the more people pick out some failures and hence this results in less popularity.
    The failures/blames of two ladies mentioned, go indirect in the name of "The Obama Administration"!

    December 30, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Vernon

    Surprise, surprise - Obama sinks in polls. Obvious – he's a weak leader who thinks if you bow to foreign leaders, talks nice-nice to our enemies, apologize for US every time he goes overseas, throws money at every Country who whines, continues billions in bailouts to Fannie/Freddie & GMAC & doesn't have a clue how to run a Govt.

    December 30, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    And precisely how retarded does one need to be to think, even for a moment, that the dude at the top of the pyramid, who has to take the blame for anything that goes wrong, would ever be the most popular? This poll tells us nothing we didn't know already.

    hmmm...perhaps retarded enough to regurgitate a phrase such as "carbon slavery"? Laughable that one.

    December 30, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. Silence Dogoode

    T'SAH from Virginia:

    1. Didn't know Obama knew how to think
    2. Obama doesn't need any help to look bad...he's doing a great job all by himself....

    December 30, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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